The Lancers took on the Shaler Area Titans (6-3) early Saturday afternoon, in a non conference game, looking for a bounce-back after the loss to Derry the prior night.
It was a back and forth first quarter, but the Lancer’s offense did not disappoint as it leaned on its youth for offensive production having freshman Derek Burk put up 7 early points to build momentum for the Lancers on the offensive end. The Titans hung right alongside the Lancers for almost the entirety of the first period of play, and guard Kaden Orga quickly proved that Burke was not the only freshman to worry about as he put up 7 points for the Titans in the first. With the final seconds of the first quarter winding down, junior guard Lucas Tiglio was fouled from behind the arc and connected on all three free throws, giving the Lancers a 18-14 lead heading into the second quarter.
To begin the second, junior Dylan Schlagel for the Titans heated up and got some early baskets and the folks at Deer Lakes High School quickly realized that we had a nail-biter on our hands as we watched the lead diminish to 1 midway through the second. Junior Justin Brannagan had something to say about this though, making jaw-dropping acrobatic layups en route to a strong 11 point first half performance. The Lancers closed out the first half with a bang, as senior Paul Zalus put up 4 points in the final minute of the half giving the Lancers a comfortable lead to walk to the locker room with. The Lancers led 40-32 at half.
The Lancers came out of the locker room filled with energy and ready to play, as in the first few minutes of the half they excited everyone in attendance with a crazy sequence of a Billy Shaefeer three pointer and an Armend Karpuzi and-one on back-to-back plays to get the crowd going wild and the momentum established. Lucas Tiglio soon wanted in on the scoring action, using his silky-smooth jump shot to get him 3 points from behind the line and then taking it to the basket for 2 more the very next play giving the Lancers an 11 point lead as Assistant Coach Albie Fletcher calls a timeout part way through the third. Deer Lakes was not without struggle in the third period, as with minutes winding down 2 quick turnovers cut the lead to 8 for the Lancers. After the third quarter, the Lancers were leading 60-52.
The fourth quarter is where the heartbreak began for the Lancers. The Titan’s strategy was no secret in the fourth quarter, as 6’7” Junior Logan Bernesser was the focal point of their offense, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter alone was good enough to tie the entire Lancers offensive performance. Despite strong efforts from team leaders such as Armend Karpuzi and Lucas Tiglio, the Lancers had no answer for Bernesser as the Lancer’s quickly watched their lead disappear and Shaler come out on top. It took a few free throws from freshman Kaden Orga to finish with 24 points for the night and finish the victory for the Titans. Logan Bernesser also had 23 points. The final score was 78-71 with Shaler finishing on top.
The Lancer’s resilience and fight is what allowed them to compete with a much bigger 5A school such as Shaler and the Lancers look to build off this loss for bigger and better things in the future. We reached out to Armend Karpuzi early Sunday afternoon and asked him, how him and his team are handling the recent adversity and how he thinks the team can take these recent hardships to better themselves for the remainder of the season. Karpuzi provided an insight when he responded, “We are going to learn from what we have done wrong with situations in certain games..” and “continue to preach our effort and tempo.” The Lancers take on Knoch Tuesday at Deer Lakes High School. Keep up to date on the Deer Lakes Athletics page on Twitter and other social media platforms in order to tune in live and watch your Deer Lakes Lancers.
By: Eddie Auer and Tyler Gozzard